Tag Archives: seafood

Lisbon

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Lisbon = seafood and I love it! I honestly knew nothing about Lisbon before I arrived, but one thing I did do before going was listen to some Rick Steves podcasts about Portugal. There was one focused on just food, so I was definitely excited to try some seafood. If you’re ever walking around alone in Europe, I highly recommend downloading Rick Steves’ app and listening to the tracks about wherever you are. Great way to pass the time as you go from place to place and learn more about different attractions, cuisines, and cultures.

I got to Lisbon on Friday night, and took my time getting to dinner – I had a place in mind, but I read on TripAdvisor that there are always lines. Sure enough, when I reached Cervejaria Ramiro at 10:30 pm, there was a line of about 20 people! Luckily they were all a part of one big group, and I was seated within 10 minutes. I didn’t find this out until later but “cervejaria” basically means beer hall, which explains the rowdiness of the whole place.

They give you an iPad with a menu that has pictures on it, which is pretty helpful. The prices are listed in grams, which I had no frame of reference for, but when I said the 3 things I wanted, the waiter said I should get small sizes for all of them.

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I ordered shrimp with garlic, crab, and giant tiger prawns. The shrimp with garlic was delicious and came in this butter sauce that was great for dipping everything else in. Everything tasted really fresh! The crab is served as all of the legs and claws, but then they mix some crab meat with some stuff (I really have no way to describe this) and put it in the shell. It was… interesting. I wasn’t really sure what I should or shouldn’t have been eating in there, although I’m sure it was all fine. One travesty is that I didn’t eat the crab meat in the legs. I was a) too full, and b) given this hammer that you can see in the top left – I’m used to being given a crab cracker and felt really awkward using the hammer even with all the noise in the place.

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At Gambrinus, here’s some sole with a lemon butter sauce that I paid way too much for for lunch on Sunday.

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Portugal’s national dish is bacalhau, or salt cod, even though it’s all from Norway. They say there are 365 ways to prepare it. At Restaurante Carmo, I just got one of the most popular variations – bacalhau a bras, which is made of cod, rice, scrambled eggs, onions, and black olives. I was expecting just a piece of fish with the vegetables on the side, so this was a nice surprise! I liked it, although I wasn’t too sure how much cod vs. onions there really were in it.

Not to be outdone, pork is also very popular in Portugal. Also at Carmo, I had some pata negra:

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This was sooo good. The ham is from pigs who are only fed acorns or grains, or a mix of both (not sure which one this was) which changes the flavor and quality of the meat.

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On Saturday night, I ate at Joao do Grao, which was a little too touristy. It’s never good when the menu comes in 10 different languages. I ordered carne de porco alentejana – fried pork with clams. When this came out, I was a little worried because of the fries. Yes, the fries sucked but the rest was pretty good. This was actually my first time eating clams! Not bad.

The one thing that Lisbon is REALLY famous for is pastel de nata, a pastry made with eggs. When I read about them and saw pictures, I thought, “hmm, these sound like dan tats,” which are Chinese egg tarts that you eat at the end of dim sum. I read that the Belem district, about 25 minutes away by bus from central Lisbon, is the best place to get them, so I made the trek over there.

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In Belem, they’re so special that they’re called pasteis de belem, which is also the name of the bakery. This place was insane! There was a line out the door, but it moved pretty fast. When I took a bite of them, I thought, “hmm, these taste like dan tats.” I looked up dan tat online, and basically the only places where these are popular are Portugal and Hong Kong/Macau! Weird but cool. But makes sense, when you realize that Macau used to be a colony of Portugal. The more you know.

I do think these were slightly better than dan tats though; they were sweeter. Usually I don’t like dan tats enough to make it to the end of one. Also the cup is made of puff pastry and while the cup in dan tats are usually more dense, flour based.

One thing to note as you eat through Lisbon is that they will always put down a basket of bread on your table – this is not free! You can refuse it or just not touch it and they won’t put it on your bill, but if you do eat it, it costs a euro or two. I definitely broke down on this a time or two.

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EuroTrip

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One of my best friends, Jill, and her brother, Jim, planned a trip to Europe so I invited myself along! I met up with them in Paris and then we spent a week traveling through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

France

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Of course – macarons. I am obsessed with the colors of macarons. I’ve read about the great Laduree vs. Pierre Herme debate, so I thought I’d try my own taste test.

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I tried Pierre Herme first, where I just got a pre-made box of 12. The flavors were pretty interesting – milk chocolate & passion fruit, salted butter caramel, olive oil with mandarin orange, mint, etc. The ones with fruit weren’t my favorite, but the quality was great and they really did melt in my mouth.

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Laduree had a much longer line. While the colors of the macarons were a lot more Instagramable, but I didn’t think they were as good as Pierre Herme. They just didn’t taste as fresh and the flavors felt a little more artificial. I got a box of six – I tried rose, coffee, pistachio, citron, Marie Antoinette, and salted caramel. Don’t get me wrong though – if someone offered me a Laduree macaron, it’s not like I’d pass it up.

Luxembourg

Here we made one of the worst decisions of the trip – eating at Quick, a fast food restaurant similar to McDonald’s that’s big in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. A couple of us had some stomach issues after eating Quick, if you get what I mean…

Belgium

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We got these Belgian waffles pretty close to Brussels’ main square, which probably wasn’t smart. There wasn’t anything special about these waffles, which were absolutely covered in milk chocolate, strawberries, and powdered sugar. It was a little disgusting to eat by the end.

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This was actually the first time I had ever eaten mussels. I liked them! However, that might be because they were slathered in butter and garlic. Jim also had them and thought they were good; Jill had one and thought they tasted like boogers.

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In Bruges, we got Belgian frites! These are pretty much just normal french fries, but there are a ton of different sauces to get – curry, tartar, cocktail, mustard, and andalouse (similar to thousand island dressing) just to name a few. I got a garlic sauce, which was tasty.

The Netherlands

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We ate poffertjes, or Dutch pancakes, several times in Amsterdam. They’re basically just regular pancakes, but mini sized, with a slightly spongy texture. You could get them with chocolate and tons of fruit, or the traditional (and my favorite) way – covered in butter and powdered sugar.

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While in the 1 1/2 hour long line for the Van Gogh Museum, Jill and I each got a stroopwafel. Stroopwafels are really thin waffles with a caramel syrup inside. It wasn’t as sweet as you’d think it would be, which was good.

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My last day in Amsterdam, I did a wine and cheese tasting at the Reypenaer cheese tasting room! An instructor guided a group of about 15 of us through six cheeses and three wines. I learned that as the cheese gets older, it gets a lot drier and more crumbly. We were provided with a sheet of paper to write down descriptions of the color, taste and our ratings. I wasn’t really too good at picking out the flavors in each cheese – apparently there were flavors like smoke and chocolate in them?! All I could taste was cheese.

I loved my time traveling through Europe, and especially Amsterdam, which is definitely my favorite city in Europe so far! Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try some raw herring?

Covent Garden Eats

IMG_0850During the week, I’m in the suburbs of London, but if I stay for the weekend, I will move hotels and actually stay in the city. Lately I’ve been staying in the Holburn area (pronounced HO-burn for some reason), which is near the British Museum. It’s also a quick walk to Primark, my guilty pleasure crappy quality clothes store, and Covent Garden.

Covent Garden is a pretty happenin’ place! There’s always a ton of people having drinks at the Market Building (pictured above) and just people watching. There’s lots of shopping around too.

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I learned about Pizza Pilgrims from this list on Thrillist of The 16 Worst Restaurant Decisions You Can Make in London. #1 is “Eating at Pizza Express on Dean St when Pizza Pilgrims is across the street.” I’ve actually eaten at Pizza Express before and it wasn’t bad. Anyway, Pizza Pilgrims has a great website where you can order takeaway and pick it up at a specific time, so I did just that and walked 15 minutes back to my hotel to dig in. I got the nduja pizza, which is a margherita pizza with spicy pork sausage. It was really tasty but the whole pizza, as you can see, was pretty watery. Also, this is basically the only meat pizza on the menu. Sorry, but I like my pepperoni, sausage, and canadian bacon. However, I’ve been back to Pizza Pilgrims many times so that says something about how delicious it is!

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At Burger & Lobster, there are only 3 options: burger, lobster, or lobster roll. Each is £20, so obviously, the lobster seems like the best deal. I’ve been here twice – both times I was seated relatively quickly at the bar, and ordered grilled lobster. The lobster is really easy to eat and comes with a delicious butter dipping sauce!

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I learned about Bone Daddies once again from Thrillist, this time on their article about The 10 Best Dishes in London. I got the tonkotsu ramen, which is the dish on the list. It was perfectly good ramen…

….but I’ve also been to Tonkotsu, which I like a little better than Bone Daddies. They also have their own Tonkotsu ramen, which is pictured below. I find it a little hard to break up the big pieces of pork, so I prefer their Tokyo ramen – somehow the pork belly seems to be more of a pork bellyish consistency and it’s easy to break apart. The broth is also made of pork AND chicken stock, which I like better too.

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And then of course, there’s Shake Shack! Located right in the historic Market Building, this is my go-to meal if I just want something quick to eat. Surprisingly, this Shake Shack has the shortest line of any Shake Shack I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of understandable, since there are already a lot of similar burger places in London (like Honest Burgers and Byron). It has the exact same menu as it does in the States, except like all of the Shake Shacks, the concretes (custard ice cream) kind of give you a hint of the location. The concrete pictured is named Sticky Toffee – vanilla custard, chocolate toffee, paul.a.young chocolate chunks, salted caramel sauce, and malt powder. Yum!

One last place I’ve liked in the area is Gelupo! Great gelato with creative flavors, like ricotta coffee & honey and amaretti & apricot, and standard flavors, like mint chocolate chip and hazelnut. Just make sure to go well before closing time – instead of restocking the flavors, once the run out, they just don’t sell any more of that flavor that day.

Shell Shack

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Out of all the places I’ve been to in Dallas, Shell Shack is my favorite! However, I think this might be highly influenced by my love for crab in general.

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Shell Shack just opened in October on the very popular McKinney Avenue. Basically all you do is say what kind of seafood you want (king crab, snow crab, dungeness crab, shrimp, or crawfish), what flavor (cajun, garlic, lemon pepper, the kitchen sink, or naked), and the heat level (mild, medium, hot, diablo). Every time I’ve been there, I’ve gotten a pound of the dungeness crab with the kitchen sink (all of the flavors combined) with mild heat. There’s also the option of getting it “Uptown Style,” where they de-shell all of the crab or shrimp for you. But to me, that’s taking away half the fun!

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Once the food is ready, they give you a bib so you won’t get sauce all over your clothes, and then just dump a bag of all your food on the table. There’s also the option of adding corn or potatoes to your bag, which I always do. Even though it’s mild, it still gets pretty spicy for me by the end! I could see how digging through the crab for your meat would be annoying if you aren’t used to it, but at least they do have the Uptown Style option. This is a also a great place to watch a sports game as they have TVs all along the walls.

Finally, they have a very cool hand washer right next to the bar – you stick your hands into these two holes and it’s a rotating spray and that’s surprisingly efficient. I would totally come to Shell Shack every week if I could!

Salmon Steaks with Hoisin Glaze

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This recipe is super simple, and uses very basic ingredients that I usually have on hand. And, it’s healthy! The only thing is that my sister can’t make this for her husband ever – he’s allergic to oranges.

Ingredients:
– 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
– 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 4 salmon steaks (each 8 to 10 ounces and 1 inch thick)
– Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
1. Whisk together orange juice, hoisin sauce, and honey to make a glaze.
2. Season both sides of the salmon steaks with salt and pepper.
3. Place the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet and brush generously with the glaze.
4. Broil the salmon about 4 inches from the heat source, 10 to 13 minutes.

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Bang Bang Shrimp

A couple weeks ago, my parents and I went to Bonefish Grill for dinner.  We went on a Wednesday, which they call “Bang Wednesdays” since their Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer is only $5.  The place was packed and I saw several people eating the Bang Bang Shrimp as their meal!  So I was pretty excited when I found this recipe on Pinterest a couple days after our visit.

On their menu, Bang Bang Shrimp is described as “crispy, tossed in a crispy, spicy sauce.”  It was pretty easy to make and tasted just like the original!

Ingredients:
– 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
– vegetable oil for frying

For the sauce:
– 1/2 cup mayonnaise
– 3 tsp Sriracha sauce
– 1 tsp granulated sugar
– 1 tsp rice vinegar

For the egg mixture:
– 1 egg
– 1 cup milk

For the breading mixture:
– 1/2 cup flour
– 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 1/4 tsp onion powder
– 1/4 tsp garlic powder
– 1/4 tsp dried basil

Directions:
1.  Combine the breading mixture ingredients together, set aside.
2.  Combine the egg and milk together, set aside.
3.  Bread the shrimp: coat each shrimp with the breading mixture, dip the breaded shrimp into the egg and milk, then coat it with the breading mixture again.
4.  Refrigerate the shrimp for at least 20 minutes, which will help the breading stick onto the shrimp when frying.
5.  Heat enough vegetable oil needed to fry, and when it is hot enough fry the shrimp for 2 or 3 minutes until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.
6.  Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together, set aside.
7.  Cover the shrimp in the desired amount of sauce and mix to coat.